My mom knows my fascination with watches, and she got me a skeleton mechanical wristwatch for Christmas. I had heard of the brand and still was skeptical. I even contemplated returning it just because of the unknown. As I played with it for the next few days, I grew to like it. In all honesty, I was surprised at the accuracy of the timepiece. For around $300 this new timepiece was off by less than 5 seconds in 24 hours, which for mechanical watches is amazingly good. My $5000 timepiece does a couple of seconds more. As well, one full wind does last for approx. 40 hours, even more than my Hermes $5000. It does not feel light on the wrist, as I assumed initially when unboxing it. The leather band did take about 5 good wears to take the shape of my wrist but now wears comfortably. Enough about the watch itself, this is not a blog about the product, rather the family behind this small business.
I visited their website at www.tufinawatches.com and read their story. It intrigued me since they claim to have been in watchmaking since 1828. Skeptical as I am by nature first thing I did was to Google about their history. Not much came along but did see tens of articles in the Albanian language and a good article in Wikipedia. My curiosity was on fire! I reached out to an Italian friend of mine, Dr. Giovanni Armillotta, who is an expert in Albanian history and Southern European history in general. Surprisingly, he knew about the family, and he explained to me they were a prominent Albanian family highly persecuted by the communists. Thus, some of them had to flee the country for a better and safer life in Germany and the USA. Dr. Giovanni Armillotta then put me in contact with one of the family members, who was very proud to answer any of my questions.
The Tufina’s nowadays are very much blended and immersed in every aspect of German and American life. They have been born, raised, and educated in their 2nd homes. Nonetheless, they are very proud of their roots, and most of them are polyglots. German, English, Albanian, Italian, Spanish, and many more are daily spoken in their households. Their story begins two centuries ago, even though they state they have been using the last name Tufina far longer than that. Their 8th grandfather was the first watchmaker to build the mechanism in the clock tower of Tirana known as “Sahati i Tiranës”. The clock tower is one of the oldest in Europe built-in 1822. The family took care of this clock tower until 1973 when expelled by the communists. From their 8th grandfather until today they count 35 watchmakers. In the Presidential Room and Prime Minister’s Office two clocks bare the brand “Vllazën Tufina”, which means “Brothers Tufina”. Some of their early partners were the famous German family Kienzle, the oldest watchmakers in Germany. Later they worked with Junghans, Omega, Eberhard. At one point in the 1940s, they owned 23 stores, had a master school where young men were learning watchmaking as a craft, had built at least over 4 clock towers throughout Albania. Unfortunately, this had to change; in 1948 many of their family members including their grandfather were imprisoned, killed, persecuted. All their richness was forcefully confiscated. During communism, some of them continued to work as watchmakers, but under government rule and not as a private entity. Their grandfather is their pride and joy. He is the one who instilled in them the love of watches.
You can see the links below if you want to learn more. If necessary for some of them use Google translate to learn more about this family business. I admire their perseverance. For the last 30 years, they have been growing their German and American businesses to an international base. Their manufacturing and warehouse are located in Münich, Germany. All their products are manufactured and hand-assembled in Germany. Their watches ship from Münich via priority FedEx or UPS. They have made me a fan!